South America is a beautiful continent, with a great climate, fantastic food and friendly people. However it has a bit of a bad reputation in terms of safety, considering the high levels of violence and political upheaval as well. You shouldn’t go without a plan, so here to help out is this little guide for those of you visiting South America.
South America isn’t Europe
And I don’t just mean the culture, the food and the climate but the size. It has a total area of 17 million metres squared and to go from one end of Argentina to the other would be like going from Barcelona to Turkey. With all that said, you need to give yourself time to get from A to B. If you want to see as many sites and places as possible then you have to plan for it and leave yourself plenty of time to get to them.
If you’ve been learning Spanish and quite fancy trying out some conversations in South America then be warned. Although they are native Spanish speakers the dialects are so different that you may get lost in simple conversations. On the plus side, you’ll learn a bunch of new insults and swear words.
You might have an image in your head that South America is a place where Westerners can live in luxury, but that would be a mistake. Countries like Argentina and Chile especially are fairly expensive, and while somewhere like Bolivia would give your budget a little break, I’d recommend over budgeting for this trip.
While the reputation may be bad, for tourists South America is safe and so to travel with this presumption would be a mistake. The vast majority of people are open, friendly and honest, and if you stick to the tourist areas then you can cast your fears aside.
You’ll find the best food on the streets and not the restaurants. Proper, locally sourced and cooked meals that you won’t find so easily back home. Be careful drinking the water in some places but for the most part you’re good to drink it. And you can always take some purification tablets with you to be safe.